Wednesday, February 22, 2012

750 Words A Day

I subscribe to a website. It's called very simply "750". It's a website that encourages its users to write every day. Its not fancy, just a page on which the writer puts down words. Stories, ideas, anything the writer feels like saying. It doesn't get read by anyone, it's all very private and secure. When the day is over, magically, the day before's work is gone, to where I do not know. Every morning, by 6AM, I receive an email from a person called Buster, telling me that I should write 750 words today. Thank you Buster, especially for not coming over to my house and busting me for not doing what I am told.
Today, I made a little promise to Buster. Today is Ash Wednesday and for the next forty days, Christians world-over will be making promises in preparation for Easter. Some will give up food, some beverage, others habits, good and bad, that they have just been awaiting the opportunity to either ditch or bring to a new level of importance in their lives. For me, the Lenten sacrifice will be one part spiritual, one part intellectual and one part physical. All of these I find difficult to commit to. Daily fitness classes, no wine, no chocolate and 750 words a day. Promises to keep. Little steps along the road to a happier, healthier, smarter and holier me.
I'm reading a great book at the moment. It's On the Road With Francis of Assisi by Linda Bird Francke in which the author follows the path of Francis on his way to sainthood through Italy and on to Egypt. Francis, we learn, went to great heights to deny himself earthly pleasure, not least of all adding ashes to his food to deaden the taste as he criss-crossed Italy for over twenty years.
I'll never be Francis of Assisi. I'll never come close. Any ashes that I may eat will be those that have randomly flown in from an open fire in the backyard of a rented house in Assisi. I'll never work any miracles, heal any lepers, bring anyone back from the dead. I'll never found a religious order or become a saint. I'll never spend my time praying in a hovel that will become a shrine, surrounded by iron gates in a cathedral.
But Buster, I'll give it a good crack at learning how to write and maybe by Easter, I'll have 750 words on one piece of paper. How's that for a promise? And don't you worry Dear Saint Francis, I'm learning a lot from you. Pace e Bene my friend.

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